February: Monthly review

One of the few sunny days in a dreary month!

Let’s just begin the review of February by saying that we received only 31% of the possible hours of sunshine for the month. I didn’t even know such records were kept until our local weatherman reported it at month’s end. There were a couple of big snow events and frigid temperatures.

I suspect even the Winter Fairies went South for the month!

To keep myself busy, I started the indoor project of making the new decorative posts for the Front Garden. It has been fun, and time-consuming, both of which are good things in such a dreary, depressing month of Arctic blasts, snowstorms, wind advisories and international devastation. The garage heater ran almost constantly, with single digit and even below zero temps several nights.

Making progress!

Seeding went according to schedule for the most part. Fifty-four varieties were seeded in February: sweet peas, lupines, lots of cold-hardy annuals in winter seeding jugs, onions, peppers, strawflowers, more stock, calendulas, lunaria, phlox, asarina, fava beans, dahlias, more snapdragons, gomphrena, cherry and grape tomatoes, basils, talinum, sweet alyssum, and a few cold-hardy vegetables. I’m seeding lots of small batches to work out timing for unfamiliar crops, and to just “push the envelope” as much as I can for earliness. Some crops may be lost, but that’s okay if I learn something in the process.

The light stand is old, but still functions fine.

Transplanting is also on schedule. One thousand six hundred and seven babies were put into pots. Of course, a lot of the plants that were seeded into soil blocks or directly into individual cells (like sweet peas) won’t be transplanted but will go directly into the garden beds as soon as the weather allows. However, with the increase in the number of plants this year, I had to purchase two additional lights and found two more lights in the storage area that were put into service, making space for an additional eight flats of seedlings. Not surprisingly, a couple of seed packets jumped into my cart along with the lights…some purple zinnias, just in case there are not enough purple in the mixes and some tall shasta daisy seeds. This year, I’m experimenting with transplanting some plugs into crates, allowing the plants to get established quickly rather than waiting for ground to thaw in the raised beds. We’ll see how that works out, but so far I’m thinking it’s going to give blooms lots earlier for dianthus, snapdragons and ranunculus. They get moved outdoors onto the patio off the basement for an hour or two on any day above freezing that doesn’t have gusty winds. Watering generally took an hour a day this month.

Some plants get to enjoy the outdoors on the few nice days in February. Move them out; move them in; move them out; move them in! Hardening off is a necessary process.

The dahlias were divided and potted, a week earlier than last year so hopefully they will bloom a bit earlier. I wanted to get them finished before the new dahlia tubers begin arriving. And the greenhouse was given a tidy so that as soon as the weather cooperates plants can be moved in.

Fortunately, the Winter Olympics and basketball filled hours of television viewing, simultaneously filled with cutting plastic jugs into plant labels, making plant signs for the garden club sale, and searching for some new recipes to utilize the jars in the pantry. Seldom do I just sit and watch the tube empty handed.

Tiny, tiny snowdrops, but so very welcome!

The first snowdrop, that first bloom of the 2022 season opened on February 23. And finally, on February 26 the weatherman forecast an ENTIRE week of temperatures above freezing, even at night! So, I made a new job list, was able to dig some leeks, parsnips and carrots, tidied up some of the raised beds, carried compost pots to the compost bins. Still too wet to do much else outdoors, but I did pick up more walnuts and carried more pots and flats to the basement.

All in all, it was an okay month. There was lots of progress in seeding and transplanting, one post was nearly finished, more amaryllis bloomed indoors and the snowdrop popped up outdoors. Normally, that would be making my blood surge with energy even on cloudy days, but the situation in Ukraine and the continuing Covid worries just seem to sap a lot of that energy and make it difficult to sleep. Praying for peaceful solutions, but not holding my breath…..

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And the winner is….

“Terra Cotta Star”

With an astounding 11 blooms, this second year (in my possession) “Terra Cotta Star” amaryllis is the winner! At least so far! This photo was taken early, before most of the blooms were fully open just so you could actually see all the buds well enough to be able to count them.

more open….

A few days later, it now looks like this…big, beautiful blooms shouldering against one another, each one absolutely perfect! What a wonder these bulbs are! So easy, so carefree, demanding so very little other than a little water, some part shade in summer, a couple of months of slumber, and then magic! A wonderful gift of color while it’s still bleak outdoors!

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Someone Took a Joy Ride!

Two downed pine trees!

Someone hit and knocked over the neighbor’s gate post, swerved across the road and demolished a mailbox and then careened across our driveway and knocked over one of our pine trees that lines our drive. They must have been going at a high rate of speed because hitting the tree didn’t slow them down. Nor did driving over and breaking off a second tree, which they dragged about 50 feet before they crossed our driveway again.

Good thing those trees weren’t any bigger!

After crossing our driveway, they swerved to the right, just missing a utility pole by inches!

Not often we wake up to a tree in our driveway!

I wonder if they knew they were heading toward our slope?

It’s nearly straight down fifteen feet!

They must have landed bumper first. There are a few parts laying in our ditch. How they managed to get out of the ditch and continue on their way is a puzzle. Must have been momentum! So be on the look-out for someone with a crunched front end, missing bumper parts and tufts of pine needles in their grillwork! Buy them a cup of coffee…they had a rough ride! At least they missed the Front Island garden!

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Spring is creeping in!

Snow again…but not much!

Yes, I know. It’s still officially winter, but the positive bubbles within me are beginning to rise. Yes, we have snow again, but it’s just a tiny skiff and the sky is blue, the days are getting longer and when there IS sunshine it is stronger. But, if you need to be convinced here is some further evidence!

Giant white alliums pushing through!

During a walkabout, these “White Giant” alliums were spotted in the Front Island. I don’t recall them being among the first early risers before, but there they were!

Crocus emerging, too!

Not surprised to see these little crocus emerging in the Front Garden, because they definitely are among the first of the early risers in spring. I was a bit surprised to see that last year, according to my journal, they were at this stage on January 24th, so this year they are already a month later!

Not plant related, but the solar lights along the Front Garden have been frost heaved and wind blown over. I would have straightened them up, but they are frozen in place, and the ground is too frozen to push them in even if I could have released them. Looking at all the brown mulch, it’s a little hard to believe it will be a carpet of color in just a few weeks, but it will happen…it WILL happen! Faith, cricket!

“Angelina” sedum

Around the house to the Deck Garden, the golden foliage of “Angelina” sedum captures the eye. This is such a durable plant, and so pretty year-round even here in our Zone 5b Indiana winters. I love it as a ground cover, but it is even more valuable as a trailer in sunny window boxes, where dry conditions often make other plants suffer. This patch is getting too large and crowding its tiny mini iris neighbors, so I’ll be digging some of it for containers and the garden club plant sale. But, we are here searching for signs of spring…

Looking a little thick…I should mark this patch for dividing after bloom.

Daffodil tips are peeking through the leaves that have gathered at the inner corner of the Deck Garden. No idea what variety they are, but I’ll try to remember to identify them and put a marker in that clump for dividing after they bloom. If daffodils get too thick, they begin to flower less and less. When I take some out, I’ll fill the empty space with compost and that should give the ones remaining a boost. There are thousands of daffodils and tulips in this sloped garden, and I can hardly wait!

So cute already!

Also in the Deck Garden near the sidewalk, the adorable little “Tete a Tete” daffys are pushing through. I moved this clump from the Fairy Garden for last year, just to have some earlier color in an area that I pass daily and they were the very first daffys to bloom, on March 20th. Eager to see when they bloom this spring. And finally…….

The first outdoor blooms of 2022!!!

Hurrah! The very first flowers to bloom outdoors in 2022 are these tiny, tiny (only 2″ tall!) snowdrops. They bloomed for the first time last year, and I was hoping their short stature was because they were first time bloomers. Alas, they are still just as short, but I’m so thrilled to see them I hardly care. Last year they flowered on March 6, so they are much earlier and I can see several tips of more nearby. Hurrah! The 2022 Bloom Journal has its first entry!

So that’s six plants showing that spring is indeed on the way, which qualifies for a “Six on Saturday” post. If you’d like to see what other gardeners across the globe are finding in their gardens, visit The Propagator, who hosts this meme.

Winter may still have a grip, and more surprises to come, but I take heart that the flowers are still there and ready to strut their stuff anytime we get a bit of warmth between the freezes. Spring IS creeping in, leaving small hints of the glory to come! Have you been out searching for signs of spring? I hope you find some, because it really raises the spirit and sparks energy. Happy Saturday!

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Winter Project

Not impressive now, but wait…..

The Front Garden needs something new, a focal point, and I’ve decided an adaptation of Jim Charlier’s decorative posts will be just the thing! If you don’t know Jim, you’re missing out on one of the most dedicated and talented gardeners in the U.S. Read his book, or visit his blog Art of Gardening or best of all go see his beautiful garden in Buffalo, N.Y. You’ll be inspired! I certainly was.

My posts will not be exactly like his, because I’ve decided to make them hollow, rather than using a 4″ x 4″ solid post. The plan is to pound a short metal fence post into the soil and slide the post over it. That will make it easy to bring indoors for the winter, and also if I get really ambitious to change them out over the season. If winter continues, I may have time to do one in colors for Halloween and maybe even one for Christmas. I’m hoping that is not the case and that spring comes early, but with snow on the ground again today and temperatures falling outdoor work may continue to be delayed.

I also decided to make the center post a bit larger than his, so it is 6″ x 6″. As you may be able to tell, I’m using a corner of the basement where I seed for this endeavor. See the bag of ProMix in the top photo? First step was a trip to the lumber yard, which was a real eye-opener! I didn’t realize how much wood prices have increased since I purchased boards for replacement raised beds late last fall. So, I only bought wood for the first post, plus some nails and wood glue. The post went together easy…2- 6″ x 6″ boards opposite one another, and 2 4″ x 4″ boards to make the rectangle. Since I had to buy 8′ lengths, there was plenty left after cutting them at the desired height for a top piece.

Next was paint! Another sticker shock experience! Fortunately there was some leftover green paint in the garage that was still usable, but most of the rest were the wrong colors or dried out. A white primer was needed, and I wanted a buttery yellow and soft orange/salmon to go with the house’s brick and the flower colors already in the garden. A quart of exterior paint is nearly $30!! Whew! So, I’ll definitely be making more posts because that paint can’t go to waste! The photo is just the first coat, but I’m already having fun and it gives me something to do besides being tempted to order more seeds and plants! And you can see that the worm bin and a chair were pulled into use temporarily because I needed the crates that were holding the post in the first picture for those dianthus seedlings shown in the last blog post! I’d use my saw horses, but they are holding up a shelf in the greenhouse already. I think I can find a couple of plastic tubs to use instead. Once the base coats are on and dried, then the design work can begin. I’ve sketched out a half-dozen different combinations, so it’s time to decide on the final plan. Such fun!

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The Last Pepper!


“Sweet Apple Green” bell pepper

Farewell to the last of the 2021 pepper crop eaten fresh, the “Sweet Apple Green” bell pepper pictured above. This variety from Seeds N Such has become one of our favorites for its sweet flavor, thick walls, and bright chartreuse color. And of all the various pepper varieties grown and stored, the last dozen or so peppers left were all “Sweet Apple Green,” so they appear to be the best keepers. I’m always please with their productivity as well.

Dozens and dozens of peppers were picked just before frost and put in single layers in web flats lined with a single layer of newpaper on the bottom and stored in the garage. Normally the garage is unheated, but there is a small electric heater that comes on if the temperature drops close to freezing, and on nights when the forecast is for single digits or below zero we also leave the ceiling lights on to help. There’s too much produce (all the winter squash, pumpkins, shallots, onions, cipollini, potatoes…not to mention hundreds of jars of canned goods!) to allow any freezing to occur!

Peppers are used as needed, beginning with any showing any spots or damage. Once those are gone, those that begin to wrinkle are used next, and on and on until the final pepper is consumed. Like the final tomato, the final pepper is both celebrated and mourned.

But, do not fear! We will not go pepperless through the rest of the winter, and through the spring “hunger gap” before the pepper plants that are already started in the basement begin producing for there are dozens of packages of diced peppers and pepper strips in the freezer and jars of pickled peppers on the shelves.

The first pepper, an heirloom Fehr Ozon was picked on June 21, the last “fresh” pepper eaten on February 21st, so there were 8 months of fresh peppers from our Zone 5b potager. Not bad, not bad at all! But of course, plans are in the works to make it even better!

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Yielding to Temptation

Dahlia “Naomi”

Winter days are too long. The internet makes too many things possible. Gardeners show too many gorgeous photos. I have too little self-restraint. Thus, some additional dahlias are heading my way! But, as justification for the photo above, my mother’s name is Naomi, so it seemed more than necessary to add this lovely, satiny burgundy dahlia to my collection. It will look so beautiful with fall-toned sunflowers, deep dark celosias, and “Black Prince” snapdragons. And, if I can get the timing correct, some “Merlot Ice” gladiolas.

Dahlia “Iced Tea”

The photo doesn’t quite capture this dahlia that can lean toward salmon, apricot, copper or pinkish tones, but with the name “Iced Tea” it definitely belongs in this tea-aholic’s garden. I’m sure it will pair with lots of other things in the Cutting Garden. I’m just hoping it’s not too pink!

Dahlia “Senior’s Hope”

Definitely needed more purple late in the season to go with some of the burgundy-purple toned sunflowers and I like the streaky petals and dark center of this one.

Dahlia “Zundert Mystery Fox”

Another one that can be slightly different color, from pinkish to orangish to copper to salmon depending upon temperature, length of day, etc. so I’m hoping it will play well with lots of “odds and ends” across the spectrum.

How can I like this dahlia so much when I dislike red?

I’m hoping “Black Narcissus” dahlia is the combination of red and black that the photo shows. “Why?” you might ask? Well, because the local high school’s colors are red and black, so some “Growing Kindness” bouquets may well be going to some deserving teachers this autumn.

Dahlia Spassmacher

And this one…well, just because it combines some of my favorite tones and I like the form. Soft yellow with coppery-apricot tips on quilled petals? Who doesn’t love that?

And that’s it! NO MORE Dahlia orders! I’m sure next fall when it’s time to dig and store them all, I may look back on this bit of folly with regret. Meantime though, it’s fun to dream and plan different bouquets, assuming they all thrive.

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Getting a little seedy down there!

Tiny babies growing under lights!

It’s mid-February, so the seeding has increased in pace here in Zone 5b, central Indiana. At least, it feels like 5b at 16 degrees F this morning with a thin layer of snow on the ground. We dodged the latest winter storm, which just caught us on its bottom edge. Counties north of us got lots more snow and ice. Supposedly, the new official Zone map has moved us into Zone 6, but I gardened in Zone 6 for sixteen years before moving up here, and this definitely does not feel or behave like Zone 6!

Regardless, the seeding is happening on schedule, with lots of new additions due to the “Growing Kindness” project bouquets that I’m planning. The flats shown above have “Rainbow Mix” chrysanthemum left front, with “Duchesse” asters behind. The center flat is recently sprouted “Mammoth Choice” sweet peas, and the channel flat far right has rows of just germinating seeds (peppers, stock, strawflowers, craspedia, calendula.) As you can tell, there are small quantities of lots of different things because I’m experimenting with timing, pushing the envelope to get crops started earlier than my usual time-line because now I have the berry box “coldframes” to enable some earlier planting out. Plus some things, like the “Rainbow” chrysanthemum and craspedia I’ve never grown before, so I’m trialing different times and methods. Not sure I like the channel flats because things really tend to dry out so quickly in them that it requires checking twice a day instead of once….

Stock “Anytime” and “Rocket” snapdragons

This plug flat of stock and snapdragons is another experiment. They are going to be hardened off next week, and hopefully planted out under a berry box “coldframe” the following week. I’ve never planted them outdoors so early before, but they will go into raised beds in the potager that have had the berry boxes on to help warm the soil a bit, and get a layer of frost cloth at night if the temps fall too low. Trying to get some early blooms to go with ranunculus.

Yet another experiment!

Yesterday these “Bodestoltz” dianthus seedlings were transplanted into a soil-filled bulb crate. I’ll let them settle in for a few days, and then they will go out on the patio on nice days (assuming we have some!) to begin hardening off as well. Half went into the crate, and half will go into a raised bed just to see which (if either) do well and produce flowers early. The dianthus roots had nearly filled their plug cells, and I needed the plug flat for annual statice babies so it was a good time to move them into crates.

Gold Moss” feverfew babies!

The front of the left flat is one of my very favorite plants, the tidy, dwarf “Gold Moss” feverfew. It holds its golden foliage color from earliest spring all the way through the furnace of summer, through frosts and freezes to January, when our below zero temps finally cause the leaves to brown and shrivel for the most part. If they have good drainage, there are a hardy perennials and push out new leaves just as soon as the days get enough light and the soil gets just a bit warm, often looking great when the crocus bloom! I love them and always need more. Behind them are a few lemon savory, which is an absolutely delicious, lemony herb with deep, dark green narrow leaves and tidy growth habit. Most of those are destined for the garden club plant sale. I’ll soon pinch the tops so they will branch out and become a mound. Behind the savory are a few dahlias from seed. It’s always so fun to grow a few dahlias from seed, just to see what one gets. Already there are some with deep burgundy stems and some with very pale green stems. These are “Showpiece” variety, which should be good for cutting, but I’ve also got some cactus-type and “Bishop’s Children” singles seeds on the way. I love the singles in bouquets, and the bees adore them.

Lots of different rudbeckias and a few “Vegno Sunny Ball” feverfew

These flats are mostly rudbeckias (“Prairie Sun,” “Sahara,” and “Cherry Brandy) along with a few yellow-flowered feverfew and a few of the earliest stock seedlings. They are growing “low and slow” which is what I want…growing in the coolest area of the basement so they have lots of root growth, but not a lot of top growth yet. They will be among the first plants to get moved into the greenhouse, hopefully in another week or so, if the nighttime temps quit dropping into single digits and low teens, along with the crates of ranunculus and snapdragons. The greenhouse heater can’t quit cope with temps that low so they may have to wait a bit, but I think they will be fine in the crates on the cool basement floor to promote root growth.

The Lisianthus are finally growing!

Most exciting of all, the Lisianthus are finally growing and are filling up their 72-plug trays. You may recall that I started them using 3 different methods: soil blocks, open flat, and channel flat. Those in the open flat grew by far the quickest. Those in the channel flat were a pain because they dried out so quickly. Those in the soil blocks just sat there after germination and barely grew for weeks on end. Finally, I plopped the soil blocks into these 72 plug cells, and suddenly they took off! Next year, I’ll seed in open flats and transplant into the plug trays, because that has produced by far the biggest, healthiest plants. And, the “ABC”series seems to be growing much faster and hardier than the “Arena,” “Voyage” or “Soiree” series so unless there’s a significant difference in flower size, color, production or stamina, the “ABC” will be the choice.

The vegetables haven’t been forgotten, in fact today is “Fava Bean Seeding Day!” Already seeds for shallots, celery, rhubarb, onions, cipollini, peppers and several herbs have been sown so the potager will still be producing plenty of food for the two of us, and no doubt some extra for friends and neighbors. Meanwhile, the sun is shining more, before the snow I spotted some Tete ‘e Tete daffodil tips poking through the soil, and more seeds are arriving in the mail each week. It’s an exciting time of year!

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January: Monthly review

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is potager-in-fog-with-snowmen.jpg
January had a lot of foggy, overcast days.

Once again I have dawdled in getting the monthly review out in a timely fashion. January seems long ago. I can barely remember New Year’s Eve and the entire month seems like one long, gray blur. Normally here in north central Indiana, this would be our coldest, and often snow-covered month. This is usually punctuated by the famous “January thaw,” during which the snow melts and sometimes even a precocious dandelion might bloom.

January was more foggy than usual, with several mornings when I could barely make out the potager’s fence. It seemed like an exceptionally windy month, more like March than January. Temperature-wise it was about normal, with lots of single digit or below 0 degrees F nights. There were 13 wonderful sunny days, 13 cloudy, overcast days, 1 rainy day (January 1st!) and 5 days when the big winter storm came through and dropped 11″ of snow as it passed through. This January was also fogged by the “Omicron surge” across the state, and especially in our little county of only about 10,000 hardy souls. Things pretty well came to a standstill, except for our valiant medial and emergency workers, a few stores that were able to remain open despite employee shortages, and our wonderful postal and delivery workers. Because of that, we cancelled our trip to Florida which made me sad.

A glorious sunny, snow-covered day!

I always have trouble with January, because I hate taking down the beautiful tree with all its festive lights and memory-filled decorations but I finally did at month’s end. All the nutcrackers have returned to their storage spots and the nail by the front door where the Christmas wreath hung remains empty. I have left all the wooden snowmen outdoors to add a bit of cheer, because technically they are “winter” rather than “holiday” decor. A few drawers and boxes were sorted, resulting in a trunk-load of items going off to Goodwill. I told myself I’d do lots more, but I failed…

Instead, I fussed over my list of crops, scoured newly arriving catalogs, made lots of lists with different categories (expected bloom time, flower shape, color, etc.) which resulted in more seed ordering! I know, there were already more seeds than there will be room for in the gardens (even with succession planting!) alphabetically sorted by starting date in the seed box, or chilling in the freezer or refrigerator, but here’s my justification: as I studied my list of crops and sorted them out by color and bloom times, there were some apparent gaps in terms of making cohesive bouquets with all the vital elements (focal flowers, filler, verticals and “airy.”) Plus, there were some notifications that seeds on back order would not be arriving at all, or in a timely manner.

Here’s what was ordered in January: replacement early snapdragons, blue Chinese forget-me-nots, an apricot scabiosa, a pale blue delphinium, “Midnight” nigella, “Cantaloupe” calendula to provide some pinkish, apricot, and softer yellow tones. Then I found an inexpensive source (comparatively speaking) for “Purple Majesty” millet (Fruition Seeds) and also ordered “Giant Yellow” hyssop, craspedia, burgundy toned centurea, and seeds for a large French “frog leg” shallot. In addition to seeds, a few more gladiolas and dahlias were ordered to round out planned color schemes and combinations. Planning and ordering seeds always cheers me!

And thankfully, there was lots of seeding and transplanting to do in the basement which also lifts my spirits. There were 41 varieties seeded in January, all flowers or herbs except for celery, the French shallots, and rhubarb. I’ve never grown rhubarb from seed before, but it sure was easy. I just love watching tiny seeds sprout and then grow big enough to move into their own individual pots. The perennial seeds sown in December were all ready to go: violas, rudbeckias, gaillardia, columbines, lisianthus,yarrows, the yellow feverfew, stock, mountain mint, blue flax, hollyhocks, lemon savory, gold moss feverfew, verbena tenuisecta, lemon monarda, snapdragons, and rhubarb. I’ve never grown rhubarb from seed before, but it sure was easy. In total, 724 babies were moved into pots. Half the dianthus that were transplanted in December had grown tall enough that they were given a pinch to encourage branching, leaving the other half to hopefully provide earlier blooms.

Amaryllis # 4

And, of course more amaryllis bulbs were brought out of their dark resting place, repotted, watered and moved to the sunny bay window in our bedroom until they began to bloom. The dahlia tubers in storage in crates in the garage were checked, found to be shriveling a tad, so they were misted with water and recovered. The ranunculus corms were soaked and planted in a starter flat.

I read more than normal this month: “The Giver of Stars,” “Villa Mirabella,” “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek,” “The Madness of Crowds,” “Liberty Tavern,” “Remember the Morning,” “The Officers’ Wives.” And, of course I watched lots of college basketball, baked too much, and ate too much! But, we made it through the month and during these times, that seems to be more “iffy” than in past years, so I’m thankful.

Blessing on each one of you! Be safe, smile even if you don’t feel like it, and keep aware of the countdown to “official” Spring… only 37 days!

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The Amaryllis Parade

The first amaryllis for the winter of ’21-’22…

Amaryllis (actually Hippeastrum but isn’t that an ugly name?) is one of my favorite flowers to brighten the scene in winter. Unlike some people who plant up several for the holidays, I pot one bulb every week or ten days so that I can have beautiful flowers throughout as much of the winter as possible. Last year I had amaryllis blooming from December 22-April 10th. This winter’s first amaryllis, shown above, began blooming December 31st and just finished January 22nd. It had a total of 9!!! gorgeous, huge blooms. Unfortunately I have no clue what variety it is (an unlabeled gift) but it was a bright coral/red with a white star center. Definitely a keeper!

Over the years several of my original bulbs have produced offshoots that are now big enough to bloom, so I’m hoping to have flowers even a bit longer. This year, because our first real frost came so late, the plants weren’t brought indoors to rest until late October, which delayed the starting time a bit. The bulbs really do need at least 8 weeks in a dark place to completely dry out and rest. Then they are removed from the pot, soil removed, layers of any loose, papery skin taken off, roots checked and trimmed if any are brown and shriveled, and re-potted into new soil with a bit of bone meal mixed in. Usually they need a slightly larger pot than before. And if off-shoots are golf ball sized or larger, I break them off and store them. Next spring I’ll give each one their own little pot to grow all summer and it’s likely they will bloom next winter.

Amaryllis #2…”Splash”

“Splash” only has two flowers right now, which is exactly what it had last year, but there’s another bud forming. It’s a bright red double with a white center. You can tell it is beginning to go, because the red is fading and isn’t nearly as deep red as it was. And yes, the nutcrackers are still out, providing a bit of colorful cheer.

Amaryllis “Rilona”….my new favorite!

Happily, the only new bulb ordered this year (from Brent & Becky’s) opened today. It must have known it’s my birthday! The glare from the snow makes it harder to tell, but it’s a gorgeous soft orange (my favorite color!) and the four flowers are huge. As you can see, there is another bulb stalk in the back that will provide another set of flowers. We do have a light layer of snow, although the sidewalk is practically clear. It’s minus 4 degrees F this morn here in north central Indiana, but the sunshine and blue skies sure make it looking inviting

I need to start another bulb today. I’m just picking pots at random but those that have been resting on the basement’s little wheeled plant stand are coming up first round because I’ll need that lighted stand when I begin potting dahlias next month. Maybe I’ll count them while I am down there, since I have no clue how many I carried in last fall. Amaryllis are SO EASY, and their long bloom time and even longer lifetime make them worth every penny of that initial investment.

Does it seem to you as though it has been January forever? Doesn’t New Year’s Eve seem long, long ago? It does to me, but February will arrive in only 5 days and then the REAL seed starting begins in earnest! Hurrah!

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